Afghanistan and the Region
The project on Afghanistan and the Region is a multiyear, multiphase initiative that focuses on state, security, and capacity building in Afghanistan from domestic, regional, and geopolitical perspectives. It is funded in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
LISD’s project on Afghanistan and the Region is a multiyear, multiphase initiative that began in May 2001—before September 11, 2001—after Wolfgang Danspeckgruber had returned from Pakistan at the same time the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed. The project focuses on creating peace and stability for the individual man, woman, and child—by, for, and with the Afghans and Afghanistan. It focuses on state, security, and capacity building in Afghanistan from domestic, regional, and geopolitical perspectives. The project is funded in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and is directed by Wolfgang Danspeckgruber.
Building on its previous Carnegie Corporation–supported work on Afghanistan and the region, LISD’s current project work on Afghanistan and the region focuses on analysis and policy-related research on economic development and civilian capacity building in Afghanistan, and on constructive regional relationships between Afghanistan and its regional neighbors—especially Iran and the Central Asian states—as pillars of security as Afghanistan and the wider macro-region adapt to the ongoing exit of international forces and related support structures. Project work focuses specifically on issues related to political economy, particularly at the local and provincial levels, infrastructure development, and natural resources exploration and use, and broader strategic factors affecting domestic and regional security. These focus areas will be considered from domestic, regional, and larger geopolitical perspectives, and research will be demand driven based on input from regional actors participating in the project, findings from research trips to the region, and on-the-ground developments in Afghanistan, Iran, and the MENA region.
Phase I of LISD’s Afghanistan project work built on spring 2001 research on self-governance and security in South Asia and an off-the-record meeting with Afghan leaders on the future of their country, held at Princeton University two months after 9/11. This phase of the Afghanistan project focused on state building and security as the international community worked to implement the provisions of the December 2001 Bonn Agreement.
In 2006, LISD launched Phase II of the Institute’s Afghanistan project work, focusing on Afghanistan’s development from a regional perspective as the country moved out of immediate post-conflict transition toward a more politically and economically secure and viable state among its neighbors.
Phase III of LISD’s Afghanistan project work began in 2008 and focused on the key issue areas of governmental, security, and police reform; rule of law and governance; economy, infrastructure, and international assistance/donor policy; and the creation of a viable regional compact.
Phase IV began in 2010, focusing on analysis and best practices to create stability in Afghanistan and to facilitate Afghan buy-in, empowerment, and civilian capacity building together with Afghan experts, practitioners, and representatives as the country prepared for and adapted to the drawdown of the United States and international military forces. This phase of the project focused on reconciliation with insurgents and the Taliban; sustainable job and income creation, including special issues related to youth and widows; capacity building and education; Afghan security preparations for the serious reduction of U.S. and allied military presence; and ways to facilitate positive relations among countries in the region. It also assisted in preparation of Bonn II.
Phase V began in 2012 and focused on analysis and policy-related research on economic development and civilian capacity building in Afghanistan, and on constructive regional relationships between Afghanistan and its regional neighbors.
Phase VI began in 2014 and focused on analyzing, explaining, and developing policy formulation as a response to interconnected issues concerning security dimensions, politics, socioreligious matters, trade, energy, and infrastructure in the geographical area, spanning from the Hindukush westwards towards the Suez Canal and from the Persian Gulf to the Caucasus Mountains—covering space as in the ancient empire of Alexander the Great.
The current phase, Phase VII, focuses on building a geopolitical mapping and data compendium and has been widened to work also on innovative ways to bring peace and stability, and to find means of sustainable development for the war-torn society.
The Afghanistan Reflection Team (ART) is a global network developed by the Liechtenstein Institute (LISD) over 25 years of involvement with Afghanistan and the region. It fosters and coordinates research, evaluation, and policy recommendations on Afghanistan while privileging inter-cultural and inter-religious respect and drawing on significant input from Afghans themselves. ART is directed by Prof. Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, LISD’s Founding Director.
As a contribution to the Afghanistan Policy Lab at SPIA, ART will focus in particular on the many states in Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific region, and East Asia, as well as various international organizations, that are currently assessing alternative means to respond effectively to today’s crisis in Afghanistan and to assist individual men, women, and children there. ART will initiate and sponsor relevant research, compile materials, encourage inclusive exchange, formulate suggestions and policy proposals, and offer public and policy outreach concerning relevant activities of these countries. ART works with our partners within the Afghanistan Policy Lab to disseminate these findings among foreign policy-makers, journalists and commentators, and scholars.
This effort has three specific components. First, ART will convene and expand its existing group of experts, which includes officials, academics, experts, and representatives of the private and public sector and security from many states, as well as some of their US counterparts. Second, ART will initiate cooperation with leading international think tanks and universities concerned with Afghanistan. This will offer the opportunity to exchange information, develop new ideas and recommendations, co-sponsor events, issue publications and organize related activities - always cognizant of Afghanistan's cultural and religious identities. Third, ART will expand the conversation to include inter-generational perspectives on Afghanistan’s future by fostering the inclusion of younger experts and the next generation of scholars, practitioners and students, also by activating LISD alumni and bringing them together with young Afghans concerned about the future of their country.